Personal Transportation for Seniors
Did you know that one-half of Americans 65 and older do not have access to public transportation? And that more than half of all non-drivers 65 and older stay at home in a given day because they don’t have transportation options. Those in rural areas and small towns are particularly affected because the transportation options are limited.
But it’s important for seniors to remain mobile to keep their social independence with friends and family; to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and many other life-prolonging benefits.
If you or your loved one is no longer able to drive, there are personal transportation options through states programs, non-profits and private businesses.
Is it Time to Stop Driving?
For some seniors the answer is obvious. They may be too visually impaired to continue driving.
Just consider these vision and driving facts:
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- Vision provides about 85% of information we need to make safe decisions when driving.
- A 60-year-old requires 10 times as much light to drive as a 19-year-old.
- A 55-year-old takes eight times longer to recover from glare than a 16-year-old.
- Older drivers can take twice as long to distinguish the flash of brake lights as younger drivers.
A study of the problems seniors face with transportation was conducted by the Beverly Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Seniordrivers.org summarized their findings with the following themes:
- Seniors continue driving “as long as possible because they are unaware of, or do not believe they have, alternative means of transportation.”
- Seniors “limit their driving or stop driving altogether because of functional difficulties.”
- “By the time they stop driving, many older adults are so disabled that they are unable to use most public and para-transit systems.”
- “Next to health, transportation is the most important issue for seniors.”
Types of Personal Transportation
Volunteer Driver Programs are usually faith-based or nonprofits with a network of volunteers who offer transportation to for shopping, recreation, doctor’s appointments and other needs. Reservations are required. Cost is minimal and sometimes free.
Para-transit Service: Private agencies provide transportation using minibuses or small vans to the elderly or those with disabilities.
Door-through-Door Service: Private agencies provide drivers who offer personal assistance (wheelchair help, help with bags, etc.) through a passenger’s door and on through the door of their destination and back.
Personal Transportation Options for Seniors
A place to start to find transportation options is your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
Most metro areas will have a number of personal transportation options from mom-and-pop operations to larger organizations like the Supplemental Transportation Programs for Seniors (STPs), which are grassroots organizations run by staff and volunteers and funded through grants and donations.
ITN (Independent Transportation Network) America uses paid and volunteer drivers to provide door-to-door service 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There's a pick up charge and mileage charge with a minimum charge of $9 per location. There’s also a $40 membership fee.
Assessing a Transportation Provider
As you begin to research transportation providers, consider these questions:
- Are there any requirements to qualify for the service?
- Are the rides for wheelchair users and the disabled?
- Are family members able to serve as an escort? Is there an additional charge?
- Is the service door-to-door or curb-to-curb?
- What is the service area?
- Will the driver assist with bags, wheelchairs, etc.?
- Are rides provided on the weekends, evenings and holidays?
- If others are riding at the same time, what is the maximum time for pick up and drop off?
- What is the cost?
- How are fees calculated?
- Are there any discounts? E.g., Is my income a factor?
- Is there a membership fee?
- Is a reservation needed? How far in advance?
- Will my insurance pay for rides?
Seniors maintaining their independence is crucial for healthy and active aging. A big part of independence is transportation. If you’re unable to driver, consider using personal transportation whether it’s a large service like ITNAmerica or your local para-transit service.
For more tips on staying independent, read “Active Senior Living.”
You can find services that provide personnal transportation to seniors by entering your desired senior care location into the search bar and then clicking on "Home Care".
Updated: Sep 12, 2011
Comments Comments... Read them below.
|Demita Richardson On Apr 11, 2013
I am looking to work whit you. i love drivering and. i am fixed and a hold work.
|jack fisher On Nov 7, 2012
it would be fine if there were private or other cos. that would provide transportaion for wheelchair bound senior at low or free service for shopping and medical appts.in illinois